Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sense and Sensuality

I make no apology for borrowing an idea from the title of the two forthcoming Goldenford workshops – one at the Leatherhead Institute on 10th October and a second at the Guildford Institute on 17th October. The workshops are called Sense and Sensitivity – maybe the above is better – and I’ve been thinking about the senses today, and how I can style my own parts of these workshops.

To start I tried out some perfume and sat down to write for five minutes. Surprisingly, it actually worked. Words started appearing from nowhere, which just shows what you can do when you try. The piece was not actually relevant to my novel in progress, and interestingly the perfume didn’t appear in the writing until the last sentence.

I went out for my constitutional (I’ve put on too much weight the last few weeks) and as I walked past bramble hedges, I tried out the last of some blackberries, catching my fingers on the prickles. The blackberries were tiny ones, which even the birds had left behind, so not very sweet and quite a few pips. I got to the field where last week I was pleased to see a cow and her two calves; last week, I had been aware of the smell of animal and manure; but this time, there was no smell, and alas, the mother and babies had gone. I sniffed and there was an autumnal aroma of bonfire – not near enough to be unpleasant - and as I looked around, I could see the smoke drifting up to the sky. I got to the little bridge, where I sometimes turn and return and as I passed, I could hear the sound of rushing water. I’m not good at using the senses and I don’t always notice these things.

This morning I collected a new contact lens and the two receptionists there told me, ‘We all loved your book.’ (Tainted Tree) That was gratifying and I hinted they might want to buy copies as Christmas presents. Worth a try. The optician make a point of buying a copy of each of my books for the business, as they come out, and then all the staff read it. They were keen to know when my next one was due, but I’m nowhere near finished.

If you believe in this idea of left brain/right brain – with one half being creative and the other half having a different job, I have been in left brain mode for some time. Going from M’s accounts straight on the Goldenford accounts hasn’t given the creative half any time to get back to writing, and although I’m nearly finished, I still have some queries to sort out.

However, this afternoon, I am making another honey cake and this will give me the pleasure of both taste and smell.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Revealing the secrets of the bedchamber

Listening to the radio a couple of days ago, I caught Liz Jones and Katherine Whitehorn talking about putting aspects of their lives into a newspaper column. I’ve always been an admirer of Katherine Whitehorn, ever since I heard her saying on Any Questions, many years ago, that rather than do sewing, she had pinned her bra with a safety pin. ‘A woman after my own heart,’ I remember thinking. And in this programme, she was eminently tactful towards her opposite number.

But how could Liz Jones possibly believe it was right to write about the most intimate part of her marriage in her column and expect her marriage to survive? It didn’t and the two parties documented their battle in two newspaper columns. I found myself wondering if she didn’t value the marriage at all. She would apparently sneak down to the computer when her husband wasn’t around to get the column to the newspaper before he could see it. She says, in her defence, that he could read it any time he wanted to – in the paper. But it would have been too late. She had already betrayed him; if the secrets of the bedroom were revealed, then presumably, nothing at all was sacred.

There are people who are important to me, friends as well as family, and I don't know about other bloggers, but I wouldn't feel I have the right to put any of their secrets or their secret thoughts on a blog or a newspaper column, or any area for public consumption.

We all moan about our spouses; I personally don’t complain that the other half doesn’t take out the rubbish to the bin, because I like to make sure it’s completely tied up – I’m a bit of a control freak, I admit. On the other hand, I do complain regularly that he leaves finger marks on the paintwork. So I’ve made a statement to how ever many people read this blog. But I don’t regard that as a betrayal, and I hope you readers don’t either. I think what Liz Jones did was far worse than her husband’s subsequent infidelity. After all, she loved her column, more than she loved him.

On the subject of marriage, we celebrated another year on 11th September – that unforgettable date of recent memory. We forgot to buy cards, though. Lucky my sister in law did.

And on the subject of rubbish, there is to be a new regime in recycling in the Guildford area next month. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ups and Downs

After last week's jollifications, it's been a quiet week. I've been reading my book for the reading circle next week, The House with Seven Gables, written in the mid 19th century, I think. (I can't be bothered to get up and look.) It's not without humour and a certain charm, and the main characters are all likeable, so the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, has succeeded there. But it could never be published in modern times. Not without a ruthless editor. He does tell you some things over and over again, and also his sentences in some places are so long that by the time you've got to the end, you've forgotten what the beginning of the sentence was. If he was meant to be an American Charles Dickens, I don't think he succeeded. Nevertheless, I will finish the book in the next few days.

I thought we were to have an empty weekend for the first time in two months. However, yesterday, M's sister telephoned to ask if we wanted to meet up, so that we could have lunch in their camper van. My s-i-l and b-i-l surprised us, recently, by buying this really large mobile home - not to replace their proper home, but so that they can go out on trips to places, stay overnight, if required, and have all the facilities for lunches and teas at their fingertips. So off we went to meet them at a local beauty spot, Newlands Corner, near Guildford. For anyone who doesn't know Guildford, it is a town on the North Downs and therefore hilly (particularly when you're on your way back to your car with shopping.) Newlands Corner is one of the high points and looks down at the countryside around. As you can see, it's a popular spot.

But you can also have quite solitary walks. We had lunch in the van, which is enormous -but s-i-l is brave and drives it - with a kitchen area, bathroom with all the facilities, including shower, and sitting room with sofas which convert into beds. When we had admired it, we went for a walk and chat. It was a lovely day, and we didn't stop talking for a minute.

In the past few days, I've been getting to grips with the Goldenford accounts, and have nearly finished. The lack of much office work means I have almost no excuse for not getting down to continuing the progress of my various protagonists in Innocent Bystanders, the work in progress. Will young Martin face up to the school bully and defeat him? Will vulnerable Jean get out of the clutches of her unpleasant, estranged husband? Will Nick, the honest journalist, win her affections? If anyone knows the answers, please let me know. It'll make the writing that much easier.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Food, glorious food.

It's been a hectic few days, including a meeting of Guildford Writers here last Tuesday - that's a week ago. Small and select it was, with many of our group away, but we spent quite a time chatting.

Because the Son&Heir and the entourage were visiting for the weekend, I did various bits of cooking during the week. If you are efficient, you can produce clever things when the company is there. As I'm not, I tend to do some things in advance and put them in the fridge or freezer. Although the apple tree has started to drop its modest crop this year, I'm still using up last year's packs of frozen apples. So it's important to have some crumble at the ready for almost instant desserts. GD1 and GD3 love my apple crumble.

I had put off the family for one day, so that we could go to a friend's party on Saturday. Lots of people I knew there, so it was good fun. And delicious food. M & I have been going downhill in terms of weight gain. It started when we went to my ex b.i.l for dinner a couple of weeks ago, and finished the meal with a pavlova cake. Then a couple of days later, we went to a Chinese buffet lunch with M's auntie and ate a mile of crispy duck with pancakes. I can't remember precisely the in between bits, but I know that some chocolate brownies I'd made were in the cake tin (they keep very well) and we were absent mindedly visiting the tin and helping ourselves to a couple of those. The party was a continuation of an advent of total lack of will power. The desserts particularly (because it's easier to be sensible with the savoury food) led us even further into temptation. I think there was a coffee roulade (I don't normally consume anything with coffee in it, but I made an exception.) Some delicious profiteroles. I think I had some chocolate roulade too. Then on Sunday, we met our family at the local Chinese http//, to participate once again in an 'eat as much as you like' buffet. Then there were the chocs that Son's other half bought - Belgian and delicious. To add insult to injury (though that's the wrong description, because it was all so enjoyable,) when the family had gone on Monday, we went again to our friends who'd thrown the party, for tea, and had scones with jam and cream.

M & I resolved to turn over a new leaf, today, but lo and behold the chocs were unfinished. We will have to remedy that.